Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 21, 2012 8:45pm-10:00pm EDT

8:45 pm
and now we celebrate our state and read about our state. and i will tell you it has been a great thing for south carolina. >> i wanted to the prerogative of sitting here to ask the last question, and it's just to get your assessment on 2012. we are very close not being in the general election period and we have seen over the last couple of days the task president obama is likely to take. his spending comments about this precourt rule from the rose garden and the comments that you know he can't think or true given that he's a constitutional scholar. and also, he's going after both governor mitt romney and german ryan in his remarks of the newspapers as fusion to talk about how we as republicans can effectively counter what we now know is going to be the obama message. >> very important going into november for all of us to
8:46 pm
remember. we need to focus on one thing and that is president obama's record. he's going to continue to distract. that is his job. we need to continue to stay focused. that is our job. look at the economy, look at the debt, look at the loss of the credit rating and the gas pumps. look at the fact we have not balanced budget. stay on the message. this is a man that came into office as a candidate talking about hope and change. nothing that he has tried to do has worked so now she's going to scare the american public into thinking they better he liked him or it's going to get worse. and to have him be such a bully and schooled republicans and say i can't believe that you are trying to cut and reform these entitlements and try to prioritize spending. that is exactly what we want to save everybody for themselves and telling you the rest of the
8:47 pm
public is saying that's not what we want any more. government messes up more than it fixes so there is a tremendous opportunity for seeing him fall apart that he has reached a new level of trying to figure out where he's going to go because he knows this can't go on his record so he's trying to make sure he goes somewhere else. what he's looking like a cybele and like his panicking over a record he can't defend and looking like he hasn't been able to show leadership and he knows it. but i hope that if you won't be on the ticket to the left least be out all across the country campaigning very vocally as we head towards november. that is a given. and i want to recommend to anybody this terrific book and wonderful story. >> fto so much. [applause] >> for more information, visit the author's website,
8:48 pm the mullen book tv, john talks about the history of built labs and inventions that it produced. during the event from the computer history museum in mountain view california, in his new book --
8:49 pm
fascinated by a lot of historical figures. the computer field was quite young, but already there were people like kenneth olsen, gordon bell who get it done incredible work. >> i think we've got a wonderful story. it's a great, great thing. the computer is the greatest invention. >> even before my time, the sizes and looking at the figure that's used. the industry has made bigger changes than in a few decades printing as a few centuries. >> when i was a student at mit and took out the building because tens of millions of dollars.
8:50 pm
the computer and the cell phone today is a million times cheaper and a thousand times more powerful. >> we are reporting the events of history contemporaneously to what is happening. where in history to give a chance to do that? we love to be able to hear michelangelo talk about what it was like to paint the sistine chapel. >> it's important thing. estimate that is what the museum is about as being able to understand the history of what has been happening, and to see it and feel that. >> when i was a graduate student and i was complaining about the architecture, my faculty member told me study it. even if you don't like it, something exceptional is in there that's got to be successful. that is what the king to his
8:51 pm
reviews iain is all about. islamic good morning everyone and welcome. i'm the ceo, and it's my pleasure to welcome tonight on behalf of the trustees, our stuff, our volunteers, everybody that works so hard to make the magazine and a kind of special place that you just heard some people describe to the harmony of you have been here to an event before? how do you like the new set up? [applause] this is a permanent fixture evidence that the computer history museum. saunier at 9:00 tomorrow morning and when we were trying to work up the logistics for this we said we have our thing and you have your thing and google is very generous and said we will set up early and let you use at some banks to our friends at google. [applause]
8:52 pm
if you all of you are members saying stop wasting my money on these fancy chairs he lay your concerns. this is a part of our evolutionary speakers that began at the launch of the revolution of the first 2,000 years of computing downstairs. as you may know we've taken the first 13 and made them into a television program which is airing every monday night on que q eda plus. it's been in a hiatus and people return monday, april 2nd that is next monday with jane smiley talking about her great book the man who invented the computer which is about four biographies written to one. intel is providing major support for the speaker series and i want to thank them for their generosity. couplers is here for the bookselling part of the evening which happens after the show we are always happy to have to be our partner for that. sees that as your nussle so this will become a part of the book tv series which is regularly
8:53 pm
featured in the museum now there will be part of the schedule and you will have to check in the future. also our friends are here and this will air on the radio next week, april 4th at 8 p.m. so you will hear the rebroadcast of today's show. the book signing will follow this event down the lobby and you have question cards on the chairs and the senate about to hear from them tonight so as you hear john get into this discussion in the book please feel free to jot down questions and we will be collecting those in just a bit and also let me remind you as you can see on the screen of the past have for tonight is idea factory and this is completely changed the culture what people like me say on the stage we used to say things like please turn off your cellphone to release a please, tweet and post on facebook but remember they may make noise, so we would appreciate if you'd make that not happen. now for tonight's program.
8:54 pm
the i.t. factory because the better part of a 20th century that is precisely that is what bell labs are presented. it's recorded the nation's innovative engineering minds that provided them with a very special hothouse for technical creativity and produced some significant breakthroughs. we are looking at the museum to have the replicas of to those significant breakthroughs that were produced at the bell labs. the first is the model k. it is the calculator by students at bell labs in 1936. he called the model k because it stood for kitchen table which is where he assembled from a tin can and scrap relays that he had taken from bell labs. this is a replica that george built in 1980 and donated to the
8:55 pm
museum and this is part of the exhibit. then of course the first transistor, the invention that changed everything to meet the design did from the two closely spaced contacts pressed on to the surface of a slab of high purity germanium. this too is an artifact donated to the museum from the collection of morgan sparks jr.. is a replica. the original is still at bell labs. john has managed to capture and his book of that bell labs' represented and they are qualities that are often associated with silicon valley. inspired problem-solving, breakthrough design, visionary management, the culture of creativity, the ability to focus on short-term issue by keeping one eye on the long-term possibilities. or as he put it, the lab built upon the notion that a team which understood the technology could create advances that were not simply useful but
8:56 pm
revolutionary. she's used to discuss a writer for the fast company in "the new york times" magazine to give us a pretty good yarn that has the right balance in my view between technical explanation and human drama. with him tonight for the conversation is a very good friend of the museum. as many of you know, dave is the host of the form of program on friday morning and he frequently appears here as a moderator and we are glad to welcome him back. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming jon gertner and dave ivers. [applause] >> good evening all for coming today and for being here and for the introduction. it's a fascinating but for those of you that has had the opportunity to read it yet and it gets that so many interesting
8:57 pm
things i think about our culture and our times. i would like to ask if you could just to begin by reading the first paragraph of the book from the idea factory bell labs and the idea of american innovation, because it lays out what is so significant about the story. estimate it does mention google. that is purely coincidental. the book is about the origins of the modern communications seen through the adventures of the several men that spend their career working in the telephone laboratories. even more though, this book is about innovation, about what happens, why it happens and who makes it happen. it is likewise about why the innovation matters and not just the scientists, engineers and corporate executives as all the fuss and more specifically about life of the labs but in the late 1930's and the mid 1970's isn't a coincidence and to the best minds began migrating quest to
8:58 pm
california's silicon valley many of them came east to new jersey and ligon of brick and glass buildings located on the grassy campus as with the twilight. the about 15,000 people including central hundred ph.d. is and the ranks include the world's most brilliant and eccentric men and women. and the time before googled they were the country's intellectual utopia and it's where the future which is what we now happen to call the present was conceived and designed. for a long stretch of the 20th century, it was the most innovative scientific organization in the world. >> so in many ways we like to think that it all happened right here within just a stone's throw of this building. is it fair to think of it as silicon valley before it was so compelling? >> i think so. i mean it did happen here and it
8:59 pm
did happen there. it had been there before it happened here. and i think some of the things you see now in the valley and some of the kind of freedom given engineers and researchers, the small teams attacking big problems within the larger ecosystem that could help support them with advice and money and all sorts of other things and goes back to that formula at bell labs the near term thinking and the long-term thinking as john said in the introduction, and given the autonomy to the people that are very capable. stomachs of the things that came out in those years mentioned of course the things in the transistor and the added. the list is impressive. so rattled off some of the things that grew out of that experience. >> sure. it began in 1925 as the research and development of the telephone
9:00 pm
company. but a lot of my book is focused on the postwar years and it began i guess you could say 1947 would be mentioned in the transition her. the transistor by walter bratton and after it came up in the junction transistor and then a host of other kinds of transistors, the transistor prophesies followed a gets -- after that a lot happened very quick succession. for example in 1954 which is the precursor for the panels today and communications and the intermission pherae, looking at the code and the capacity, communications satellites originally designed and begun at bell labs. the first was an eco satellite that was a passive satellite and then an active communications satellite and the language can
9:01 pm
of bell labs and the couple device which is really fundamental unit for the digital photography and the cell phones and it fueled the laser. a lot of the semiconductor temperature lasers came out which are still a central and every dvd player and it's a pretty big list. >> how does that happen to come out? what is the significance of the name and how did that matter the would lead to that trail of all those things you described? >> a little bit of history probably helps. bell labs was actually formed after the phone company had been offered about 45 years. at&t was a monopoly. they controlled 80 to 90 per cent of telephone service in the united states.
9:02 pm
there were a vertically integrated company. they owned one of the largest in attracting companies in the world, western electric as well. in the early years in the beginning of the 20th century, western electric had its own engineering department and at&t, the parent company had its own engineering department. there was a bit of tension and competitiveness in 1925 they agreed they would take a stand alone lab as the sort of bottom box on the vertical stack of the company. so ideas would come out, ideas and development could be transferred to a western electric, and eventually they would be deployed by at&t which control the long distance lines as well as about 23 either parts or whole of the operating company. >> and some of the problems that they had, you read a lot about it being a problem rich environment in a want to spend some time talking about that but
9:03 pm
give us a sense of the problems they had to contend with. there wasn't a dialtone. there were very basic problems that had to be solved. >> there were no dial tones were ringers. the amount of detail that went into designing the operator headsets for these women with switchboards, teams of people would work on the problems for years, chemists i think would work on the sheathing for cables and others would work on the insulation. there was love full of detail in the amount of work the was pretty much and lists of the problems kept. >> was a disorder first time in science was deployed to solve those sorts of problems. >> there was a very small research department at the beginning and it wasn't a huge
9:04 pm
big department. there were ten to 15% of them working in basic research and applied research. the vast majority were working in the development so they were looking at near-term and they were mostly engineers where most of the science ph these were in the research department. the estherville very small. the early vacuum tubes could amplify the phone signals in the early part of 20th century gave credibility to the research department. they succeeded in deploying a cross-country phone link and from then on the research to put >> what is this in trouble job growth? you list these amazing statistics there were 15,000 people there at one time over
9:05 pm
several thousand ph these. was it difficult to process that there were so many problems? where they looking for problems to solve? >> the question of what made bell labs succeed is an interesting one and i say there's not one reason but that's i think one of the main reasons. they were connected to a company with every day practical problems and even for the people and applied research and even those in the basic research on these far-reaching problems, the notion that the work was attached to a company and that it could be practically implemented and they were dealing with everyday problems was an incredible katulis i think. >> with an argument for monopoly? is that a good thing? >> i've been accused -- i wrote in the book and wondered nobody can read this book and think from monopolies, so i added a
9:06 pm
line saying it's obvious that there's no reason for the monopoly. but apparently some people have skipped over that line. [laughter] spinets it's not, although it is a matter of life think personally from me sitting with a contradiction as we've come to understand that monopolies are not good for consumers. the increase the cost of technology that can further innovation. at this point in time during this period of the united states when tele-communications was being developed monopoly was good for the country in the decree did bill labs and allowed to think long term and work long term on these very vexing problems. >> part of the reason i ask the question is part of what comes through in the book is there's a sense that people have freedom, the of time, the have teams to work together. there isn't necessarily this sense that we've got to get this
9:07 pm
done tomorrow and that came at a sense because they had captured market. they didn't have to worry about the competition. >> they had money to be debated. tax to monopoly gave them time. things built by at&t and western electric were meant to stay in service for 30 to 40 years, which is when we now think the market, products having a life of a year or two or three or four. these were built to last. >> telephone poles, that's why they came out. >> that's right. it wasn't just one lab, it was two different labs in new jersey and they had a small laboratory wish was a sort of country town and they would vary from walls halfway up and spend years seeking would work better and they would test gophers. the gophers eat through the cables and they wanted to make sure they could have the best
9:08 pm
cables. it was a company in pursuit of excellence with the money to pursue that excellence i think and the time and that luxury of time. >> it's interesting because again as we come back to the subtle it was different in some sycophant way -- significant way from the launch rod that we think if you're in silicon valley and in a recent "new york times" story quoting mark zuckerberg at facebook to say move fast and break things. and it seems like in some ways you have an interesting contrast between bell labs, the big and the slow verses the quick and the nimble. it's part of the argument that is a value to being big and slow. >> i think so. i don't think one is better than the other but i think the balance is pretty valuable or has proven to be pretty valuable. i liked living in a world of
9:09 pm
facebook and google and i use them both and i think it is a project done very much under the gun and was actually organized in a matter of months to see if they could achieve this difficult engineering problem in a very quick time frame but i do think it is worth asking that question which i asked on "the new york times" piece of their we need more of a balance or that long-range more methodical. we don't care as fast, we don't get satisfied as fast but i do think the breakthroughs that come about could create new industries to be a cynic let's talk about one of them as a sort of case study example and it's the one that john mentioned in his introduction about the creation of the transistor in 1947.
9:10 pm
and you referenced this wonderful quote in the book in which you said if we have some ability to take part in time trouble the first stop would be at bell labs in november of 1947. so set the stage for us. why would it be that bill gates would want to go there? was going on that made such a rich and inviting place? >> if you got in that time travel machine you would go back to missouri which if you live in california you might not want to go back to, but it's a very nice place actually giving iger with a very close to their. it was a campus atmosphere. with these guys were working on this part of the answer to that question. the phone company had essentially i guess you could say to elements that were especially problematic. one is telephone switches which
9:11 pm
clicked open and close friend george stick with model used to really them there. they wore out and i think there are millions of them that had colors to each other and they were slow and moved. kelly was a main character in the book stopped bill shockley, somebody that just hired the year before and said if there's one thing we can do if we can just replace the switch is with something electronic would be a tremendous advantage for the phone company. in addition to the switches there are also these tubes. kelly also spend the earlier part of his life working on these vacuum tubes and the use of vast amount of power and broke fairly often you had to warm them up. those repeated phone calls would get them further distances.
9:12 pm
so switches, vacuum tubes and kelly created this solid state team in 1945 after world war ii if it took them a couple years to get to that time travel moment. if i could talk about what this team was maybe kelly who is the head of research who set them up, it might sound sort of obvious today but you get something very radical in creating this. he made it and usually interdisciplinary. he didn't just want physicists working with other physicists. he very much believe that new knowledge comes from the interface of discipline. he wanted to insist the engineers working together and experimentalists, theorists, loners, people who are
9:13 pm
extroverted and in essence of the be the best we attacking the problem. he spent the entire thing on vacuum tubes making them better and in creating this team to create what else they resulted in the transistor. he's kind of attacking that innovators dilemma head-on if they succeed would render his entire career in science essentially irrelevant jawfish which in retrospect seems rather creative. as bernanke did something interesting in the card who is in charge, it upset people. he was willing to sort of take some risks of only in bringing people together into the discipline, but also not necessarily going by seniority. >> that's right. he put the youngest people who were the most in this branch of
9:14 pm
science and quantum mechanics and the physicists who were out of mit in charge of the screw and leadership positions, and some of them were demoted effectively and there is a quote in their that there were people calling in office and that revolution as they call it. >> there's this since you say at one point it's the purpose of the group wasn't so much to build something else to understand it. so it is this idea that it wasn't like we've got to get this done tomorrow. there was this scientist pursuit. estimate there was a scientific pursuit to get in the back of their mind the did believe a device could be found if they could understand it. and again, it kind of goes back to the philosophy in the early part of his career he shared an office with a guy named clinton
9:15 pm
davidson who won a nobel prize in 1937, but in the early days in the teens and twenties they shared an office and they were like the original odd couple. kelly was from a robust trust movant, he might have had atv, we don't know, but was paired with the slow moving, he weighed about 110 pounds, he was always sick, she would go home and sit in his stocking cap and kelly developed this kind of awe and realized when nobody else knew the answer to a problem at bell labs and especially involving the scions of what was coming on say of diplomatic device, and in part and not just advice on how to fix something that in a deeper understanding on the colleagues couldn't do twice as good, they could create improvements in the work they
9:16 pm
were doing to fight orders of magnitude and that understanding something was power. >> you said at one point kelly wouldn't want to be a contract by focusing on what was known. he would want to begin by focusing on what was not known. it's difficult and counterintuitive. there's a more common practice to proceed with what technology would allow and fill in gaps afterwards. he was a can to saying the missing puzzle pieces first. >> that sums up in many ways why it was created and what the goals were to be an understanding what we don't know and we will solve the problem. >> tell us more about the role of who of course is known here and in the and became intimate in many ways for the series of the computer made matters of
9:17 pm
race. what was his role in this and tell us something about the sort of competitiveness of him that she in some ways kind of body lead the norm by the way in which he went after them. >> this was before cubicles. there was an open door policy. nobody was to be refused. the matter how well known or famous you were. they began in 1945 and culminated with of this invention of the transistor. as leader sort of let the work, but yet when they made advances that ultimately resulted in the point of contact transistor, he certainly can and does come angeles and the king himself fascinated by the idea of improving this idea on there were already. and shortly thereafter, it
9:18 pm
resulted in something called the junction transistor in shockley, the role not only was open door that you were not to compete with the people that you manage. a nobel prize winner phil anderson when i interviewed him for the book she said this was the transgression he made and could never be forgiven and set him on a pass the increasingly in the weeks after that in the months after that which are intensely collaborative and a very cohesive and apart he pretty soon after went to illinois to become a professor and left working with shockley completely to pursue his own projects. eventually shockley was stuck in the kind of middle management position that bell labs. it was very clear to me that kelly who i just mentioned he
9:19 pm
was never going to succeed at managing people and was a matter of using his great abilities to direct the best they could and he became increasingly frustrated by this and by 1955 he decided to leave and come out here and start the conductor and he hired some pretty good people. [laughter] >> and there is some fault or implication in your book that while the career went off in various directions bna attwell dhaka in some degree as i mentioned before with controversy if not infamy but if he had stayed that that might have been contained. part of him was never a tragic flaw he might have had might have been contained if he had stayed within the more collegial role at bell labs petraeus mcginn the conversation he had made that argument.
9:20 pm
i think it's an interesting argument. i don't know, i mean, it is a hypothetical knowing something about shockley's character from spending a lot of time on the research and talking with people who know him i wonder if he could have been satisfying satisfied in that position. he increasingly wanted to pursue as all of us do more and more ambitious goals. and to stay in a kind of middle management position and quote shannon who had no aspirations to manage people of all he wanted to do his work clinton davisson shot on kelly's best friend who was a pure researcher there were folks that weren't revered but they were not on the management track. they held a very high stature but i'm not sure that shockley whatever chosen at or could have by temperament.
9:21 pm
>> coming back to the transistor for a moment. did bell labs know what it had? >> that is a question that fascinated me at that time there is some history that shows they didn't. everything i read definitely says they did. in fact the day after the transistors unveil bell labs, even after it had been buried in "the new york times" page 46 or something that was seen as this huge breakthrough. >> reminded all of us of the times. >> very good at seeing those when they happen. and in that case the day after buckley had written a no to his former boss with the president of spiegel said this book is very important to us and if you
9:22 pm
look to the internal correspondence the was coming into the researchers at a time, really every major corporation was writing to them begging for samples. the big electronics companies at the time saying sent letters of to just one guy but thinking if we fill it in, brad and kelly, the head of research, so we can contest it, a very interesting question is whether they knew its application in computers. they knew would be useful in the phone system for the amplifiers and switches. the only thing i found is a couple weeks after the unveiling of the transistor, an mit professor a note to the head of research and said can you please send us some because it has an application in the high-speed computers the we are building here. i don't know how high speed they are in retrospect that he was building these and immediately, not all of the letters could get
9:23 pm
a response but immediately he wrote back and suggest we will send them to you right away and let us know if there is anything we can do to make them work for you. it isn't clear from my research whether they understood that kind of computing application at first as it began very clear. >> but that's an interesting part of the store, too. why was that? >> in the later years after the mid 1950's they had to share. it only allowed them to use the technology for telephones, applications for military applications. but in the late 1940's, it's true they could have theoretically kept to themselves. even though they had this monopoly status, as i did some of the internal correspondence of the time it in the management they felt it was too big and too significant which almost answers the previous question did they
9:24 pm
think of as big a city was so big they had to share it but the idea that this publicly funded laboratory could keep this technology to itself would not have been acceptable. >> they proceeded it's worth noting that they had a few misses. >> the transistor team had a lot of mrs. leading up to the breakthrough. i think anybody that works in the process knows that failure is a huge part of that, and that they almost always perceived success. but then again there were misses and failures that field in the marketplace disastrously and it is an incredibly expensive folly that did a huge belly flop. and as usual it was great
9:25 pm
engineers working on it, and it was a visual communications device the was going to change the world. we'd all be communicating by picturephone and the managers believed within ten or 20 years after the was rolled out but pretty soon after within 12 months or 18 months they signed up in pittsburgh and the failure became pretty apparent. i entered it some of the guys that work on the picturephone and some of them made the case to me we were right and approves the idea you can be early and you can be wrong and that is the part of the innovation. >> what do you take from that as you think about what we have learned. where do they go wrong? what led them down that particular path without a sort
9:26 pm
of self correction. we are about to pursue those things, it's the same thing with their strength is also their weakness because you have time you can also proceed something that turned out to be folly. >> a think it could be coming you are right and there are different kind failures that occurred or different kind of misses. for instance, the fiber-optic breakthrough came through and it didn't come through from bell labs and they are pursuing something which is going to carry the signals through a specially designed pipe and that is i think i dhaka lead in the book with these are mistakes of perception of what the future will be or will mean or whether there is mistakes of judgment. and i think the picturephone was a mistake of judgment in many ways. somebody talked to me and sit pretty convincingly that it was groupthink. none of us that were working on it actually believed it could
9:27 pm
possibly fail. >> is it in part - the point where there was a consequence to failure? bill langston many of you know said to me once, quote did something which is that science is the process of growing up alleys to see if their blind, and it occurred to me in listening to you that there are wonderful things that come from that. but also then it allows for you to go down. >> one of the characters in my book i spend a lot of time writing about is guy pierce and he went to cal tech and was at bell labs for most of his career. and i went through his papers and can across something he had written considered writing a book about bell labs, and he tried to take apart what made it
9:28 pm
work and he had a sort of forepart formula, and one of those was that a researcher that is pursuing something the research should be terminated without damming of the researcher. that there should be no consequences for failure so to speak. but again, that's probably -- there is the specific failure in a systemic failure which may be more presented, and there was enough money that the consequences were not ever going to be dire. >> let me ask you one more thing about the process of discovery and then we will start getting to some of your questions as well. you write early in the book about your weak moments and i just want to read this one passage because it seems so applicable to what happened. we usually imagine the invention occurs in the flash with the
9:29 pm
eureka moment that leads to the inventor towards a startling if any. in truth, largely forbidden technology rarely have a precise point of origin. at the start of horses that perceive in the invention nearly began to align often in perceptively that the group of people and ideas coverage until over the course of months or years or even decades gain clarity and momentum. it seems like so much of what happens was not the eureka moment. it was a collection where as coal in the end was the product of some of the parts or even more than some of the parts. >> a lot of the people there especially in their early days maintain that they were building on things coming out of breakthroughs in europe for instance that time, and that kind of alignment of ideas, the ideas and discoveries leading up to something big was just a
9:30 pm
matter of course for science and engineering. .. a lot of it goes to the department of energy, nasa, great chunks of medical research. dollar amount go to basic research. it's a different system now. it's a more distributed model
9:31 pm
certainly. we look to universities, national laboratories, where his venture capital firms fund more businesses with the shorter time horizon. is it as good or affect it as what we had? i don't know. i think there are definitely games. there probably are possibly some losses. sometimes they wonder if we should talk about it more at the very least. they think it is a rich and complicated problem and i mean i've been to manufacturing competence in washington, for instance where people in the white house talk about our loss of manufacturing and that was a vital part of the western electric what they had this ability to not just invent, but to develop and really bring me things to manufacturing in a way that require great expertise.
9:32 pm
>> you make the point of the book also that that interview was one of the problems with outsourcing is you lose the connection between creativity and product. and he was a chance for sometimes the interdisciplinary walking down the hallway, who we bumped into that leads to something else. >> i think antigrowth meet that case very eloquently when there's a harvard business review article about the manufacturing ecosystem and the sturdy feet that to innovation. i think it is true and arguable that manufacturing this, but eventually development and research can move along with it. for instance, we may have even been talking about the battery industry and a lithium ion industry, which is now really located abroad in asia. and i think to some extent that is true with maybe the semiconductor industries and
9:33 pm
certainly the led lighting industry. so yes there is that danger that you lose manufacturing and lose that ability to manufacture things then you have to be concerned that you lose other aspects of your innovation economy. >> there's much more i i want to ask, john. but let's get to some of your questions as well. if you haven't begun to question, lots of time to do that. pass them out to the people who collect them. let's get to some of your questions in a return to some of mine. how many nobel prize winners do you see coming out of twitter, facebook and google? [laughter] do i have to answer that? >> are certainly great people there. i wonder -- you know, i look in the magazine now that covers a lot of that industry. and i used those products and they're very cool. i don't certainly think every
9:34 pm
company or even any company we could talk about basic research should invest in. i don't think facebook should start hiring theoretical physicists. i don't think makes a lot of sense. i don't know if they should be pursuing nobel prize is, so there's that, too. >> you pose at the end of the book a question about sort of what would people at labs in the payday think of in these sorts of innovations today? and what was your sort of conclusion about that hypothetical? >> in writing the book, i wrestled with the question on the before it even started writing. what is innovation? who use the term for anything. precollege innovation or something as innovative and gets thrown around a lot. without making a value judgment as if it is a bad thing, it is certainly a bad thing for a writer because it is trying hard to understand what is innovation
9:35 pm
when it is all mucked up. but you can never go to a store and buy a bell labs project or innovation really. it was the stuff inside of it. it was classroom innovation on which the phone system was built in other industries were built, too. so platform innovations were different and these consumer innovations we might think of now. it is not necessarily one is better than the other. they are both necessary, but they are different kinds of innovation at least as i see it. >> i don't think you answered my question. >> i gave a good answer i hope anyway. >> the question is, what would these guys being? >> what they think of facebook? i imagine they would see it as an amazing communication platform. i swept the world in the proof of success is in its huge market
9:36 pm
and leadership or membership. i want to stay away from subscriber was the word they use because you didn't own anything, but your subscriber. the question i guess too that i pose in the book is that the kind of platform through which he built other industries are technologies or thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of jobs that come out of that and i think that is a more complicated question and i think that's a good question. i don't know if i have an answer to it yet, but i think that is some into think about. >> here is a question about with the end of the ma bell monopoly, is there some sort of succession that will take the place? >> i don't think we want to go back in time and certainly the point of the book was never to
9:37 pm
create another bell labs in that sense. but i think the essence at least for me if this value with its ability to think long-term and to invest in the long-term and to solve related problems. i mean, i think you can make the case similar about ibm. you can make it about nasa and the apollo missions. you can make it about manhattan project connecting from my point of view at least right now the really big problems are an energy. our resolve in those kinds of problems? i am not sure that we are, but i think we need to. >> a question about anti-semitism. this person rates were the first to mention there is anti-semitism early on. you wrote that it ended in 1944 when kelley began hiring the
9:38 pm
first jews as employees. you actually point out the bell labs didn't struggle is anti-semitism in the same way the society of spread. but expand upon that point and to a degree that went on. >> it's a great question and unfortunately there is no anti-semitism in the archives to chart these things. the strain of anti-semitism is stronger in many parts of the company than it ever was. the starting in the war effort, there's some evidence that they passed over richard simon and because of that there's mml that the archives of blatant cases of
9:39 pm
telling people he just doesn't like jews? it's kind of a shocking memo to read nowadays. the war effort did break down the barrier and the science very much a collapse in august a great thing it also brought women into more roles, too. how many people in the war efforts by necessity and the management at the labs never looked back after that. it was certainly a laudable thing. >> this question is labs versus ibm research, why did one survive? that was the difference? >> what an interesting question. i know some about ibm research. i wish i knew more to his other the colleague observes. i think it is clear they didn't survive because they gain its
9:40 pm
energy, sustenance by being attached to monopoly. so i can answer that part of the question that could not survive in its form without that attachment and without that relationship when the phone company was broken apart in the early 1980s. after that its revenue just declined dramatically in that stream of real-world problems, that ability to justify its investments in scientific research became more and more difficult as time went on. just a quick site on ibm research. one thing that is very interesting at least to me is one of the care nurse who i talked about when to work for ibm research right after he retired and he drove around the country and go to europe to interview the researchers and write these confidential report for watson, the ceo and getting
9:41 pm
to these conclusions about what ibm research should be continued into the rising stars were, at least as mervyn kelley thought. >> given that bell labs was generally good at innovation, how did they miss the first major innovation in these primary field, namely packets switching. >> at question, too. how did they miss? i think they missed a bunch of things. i mean, i don't think -- i hope nobody reads the book and comes away thinking they are perfect. they miss the integrated circuit. they missed fiber-optic cables, too. they made decisions over what to pursue and what not to pursue. i think in any highly competitive industry, you're eventually going to miss something big.
9:42 pm
>> how would a similar r&d program work in a non-monopoly environment where projects must justify their existence and their profit in the near-term? >> i don't know if they can to be honest. i really don't. i don't know how you can capture the value of really big basic research when you are investing in that kind of risky so to speak research on such a large scale, which is i think why government, to some extent steps into that role. >> let's talk about coming back to your questions and go ahead if you still have more and we'll get to the rest the spirit a couple of other case studies that i think are indicative of this question we explore about the time and one of them is the creation of where the story figuring out cell phone transmission, which seems like science by driving around. so describe what went on in
9:43 pm
order to figure out the concept of the cell phones. >> i mean, the cell phone story, which actually was one of my favorite parts of writing the book and researching it -- by that time it wasn't just small teams of people working on problems in a lab. it was dozens or hundreds of people working on a very, very big system project. there were different kinds of people working on different aspects of the cellular telephone problem. there were systems engineers in new jersey working on it. researchers working on basic knowledge of what happens if the antenna transmission. in the sky is what drives. they rented a van and was literally drive over new jersey testing things in the early 1970s, you know, can you hear me now sort of stuff, trying to understand if what happens -- this was -- it was not
9:44 pm
completely understood what happens when you try three forrester in a tunnel or what happens with the noise from a mountain for instance in the distance. it was not known how far your transmission could travel and these were very difficult questions. one of the most interesting aspects of the cell phone effort was that some of the people who saw the conference actually came from the military work one guy has spent a lot of time talking with the done a lot of work on radar, something called discriminatory rate r. burke in the south to set it were bell labs had a small facility working with western electric and not the time, he had come back from his tour of duty, where he had worked on the highly sophisticated microwave systems, came back to the lab and then said they were going to discontinue the kinds of thing he was doing. someone suggested but did she talk to these guys working on cellular? maybe you have something for
9:45 pm
them. it was again part of the serendipity of bell labs that he was the guy with the kind of knowledge they may be fewer people have in that time and drafted into the project and yes, soon enough he had if he had been he was going down to philadelphia and cleared out the bad and stuffed it with a lot of electronic equipment and they would test all the signals to try and make a working cell phone system go. >> is somewhat not unlike the story of the creation of the satellite because it's not just science to drive around. it assigns the accumulation. the true prime 16 different discoveries i guess. and one pasco another way back to 1937 that again it not the moment. it is this collective enterprise. >> yeah, i think so. and i think that is perhaps the
9:46 pm
misunderstanding. i think we can just look at our smartphones and have the same kind of understanding that certainly it is not -- you can't be this incredible integration of so many -- so much work over the past 50 years, so any brilliant people working hard on these things, so many improvements on the breakthrough and all integrated into one beautifully designed phenomenal product. >> one of the things that is great about john's book is you also get the sense of all these different characters. i will introduce you to one more and then i'll come back to your questions. this is an individual among the terms where that comes from. >> regard it from john tukey who suggested it, which is a statistician. >> so this is a man john can
9:47 pm
describe what made him so interesting. when you're his wife that he gave him a unicycle as a gift. he then be and doing his own unicycle to see how small he can make one that could still be written. when he was in the office commission and to take a break from his work and write his unicycle up and down the long hallways of bell labs. he was not the passer byes unless he was chuckling as he rose. [laughter] when he got pogo stick, he would go up and down the hall and that, too. so here is shannon, a man who rarely showed up on time for work, who often played chess are filled with amusing machines ledet, who frequently went down the hall's chuckling or pogoing, who didn't seem to care really what anyone thought of him for his pursuits. he did what was interesting. he was categorized as a scientist. but it seemed obvious yet the temperament of an artist.
9:48 pm
such a wonderful description. he had earned that kind of ability to the accenture. when i talked about the open door policy, the only% who close the door by creating this amazing in 1948 into indications which became known as information theory was really treated or understood to be special. another people a certain kinds of eccentricity, but shannon was a little bit more flamboyant. >> llama sounds more like someone here and going down the corners of buffalo. >> i think that's right that he was ahead of his time in so many
9:49 pm
ways and probably that way, too. >> is that a fundamental contribution is that basically the communication is only as good as the container went through. >> you know, i guess the best way to explain his information but he is that he looked at the channel capacity of a system for sending messages and he asked wayne how you can measure capacity and how you could make sure you could overcome the noise in any system and also that were glad to a later be called error correcting code so you could essentially send any message that pretty much virtual perfection as long as you created these error correcting codes. shannon really wasn't interested in developing these ideas prior to kuwait.
9:50 pm
that was something, for instance, with the air correct gene codes or with digital communications. working on something called pcm, housecoat modulation, which in and also wrote a paper about. but he wasn't interested in developing them to actually be used in the system. who's very interested in developing the idea. >> in that sense, what is interesting is that it was in some ways almost like a knot in ivory tower, but has the equivalent of tenure faculty. people who could just pursue knowledge. >> absolutely. and a lot of the folks who work in research would tell me he was better than academia they didn't apply for grants and that vast amounts of money for expectation that they need to. >> you didn't have to teach practice.
9:51 pm
and you have this freedom to really work on your work. >> what is or what is the relationship between bell labs in princeton? >> allows in princeton? as far as i know, there was very little. eventually some of the last people went to princeton after they did and dr. brinkman. at least as far as the nighttime. between 1945 and 1982 there is not really any significant arrangement that i'm aware of. >> this person also wonders whether the relationship to print 10 to see if they would be a kind of ancestor to things like sri in the bay area, whether there was the connection. >> in the book to i talk about -- the bell labs executives were aware of the vitality of california pretty early on. in the 1960s, they hired the dean of stanford, who helped
9:52 pm
move bill shockley and create at stanford ecosystem of entrepreneurs and hired to new jersey, bill baker did at the last and said can we create some amalek here in new jersey. you know, there are problems with new jersey. as i understand princeton sciences program is perhaps theoretically oriented. the geography wasn't necessarily suitable. it is too spread out between princeton and rutgers and bell labs in the pharmaceutical companies to new jersey. there was this whole plan for senate university which is going to be modeled after caltech and was going to be in northern new jersey and remained a plan. it was expensive and bell labs decided they couldn't fund it and it was shelved. >> how unwise the government related monopoly at&t more innovative than a government monopoly in the post-ups?
9:53 pm
[laughter] >> boy, that's a good question. >> you get a pass. >> is a beautiful question. >> how they got the idea is to poke a piece of germania. am i remembering how to pronounce that? >> yeah, of course. they were trying silicon as well. they were trained and type in peace side. they didn't use the word doping. it was before they even use that word. this is for the engineers there. they actually used gold because they brought around and he better be the best thing they could use. get a real stash of a tedious before the war. he put it away and took it out for this experiment. >> bus was funded by the monopoly revenue of at&t. the government regulators about the cost of the added to every
9:54 pm
phone bill, and equivalent would an explicit tax with the proceeds going to r&d would never pass congress today. >> could you read the first part of that again? as tablature. >> the monopoly revenue of at&t. government regulators allowed the cost to be added to every phone bill. >> that's right. about one to 1.5 what to bell labs and it was like a national laboratory are not sent them that it was funded by not totally the taxpayers, but by phone subscribers. >> is sort of like mandatory being subscribed? >> we will go there. >> where did the at&t marketing innovation come from? this is an interesting thing. they didn't have to actually go out and sell products, bell labs?
9:55 pm
>> true. they had a tremendous publicity department. they're really good at selling this image is kind of a benign entity. where did it come from? is that the questions? >> word of the marketing innovation come from for the phone can any? was that from bell labs? >> there was no marketing are indeed they are. the human factors department and it's possible i'm not aware of anything coming out of it that they used for marketing. but it's highly unlikely. >> this question is are there any patent disputes that came out of the invention of the transistor and deceits of the royalties? >> there was a complicated patent story, especially with shockwave device for eternity patent date. i don't know if should go into the particulars, but after it came out of as far as i know in terms of challenges, no.
9:56 pm
i don't remember there being any litigation or challenges to their patent and they went very smoothly. >> is a former tellabs employee, i remember that all new products require tariff approval. competitors could delay product rollout for a year. did you encounter that. i'm not reading it right. this person is wondering that the require tariff approval on it billing product rollout. did you say that? the archives for these hearings and the local operating companies where they wanted to raise rates. i don't know if that's what we're talking about in this particular question, but there is a constant kindness at&t or
9:57 pm
local operating companies wanting to raise rates in california, for instance. i read 300 visiting pages of testimony in the 1950s were bell labs was explaining why they needed to put a higher rate in place. >> balestra many questions are about what the key fact or starts renovation. so what spend a lot of time in remaining moments on that fax or africa's would've walked through those. is it starting with this idea of giving some meantime in a multiple disciplinary rich environment? >> bell labs in this moment of time i think different people working in different kinds of innovation will take maybe different lessons out of it.
9:58 pm
i think having a stream of practical problems, whether that's which are working on or not is incredibly vital. but that the multidisciplinary aspect is quite essential or was quite essential to their approach at problem solving fairly often. i think freedom for some researchers was incredibly useful. sometimes innovations occurred not because of a management was allowing people to do, but because the researchers were going to defy management. there's a least a few instances of that occurring, to. and yet i was sometimes allowable as well. money is very important. money for the short term, money to hire the best people, money to hire a good number of people who could work together, money that ensures you will be around for the next year and maybe the next five years for the next 10 years.
9:59 pm
as i see it, i think those are the essential ingredients. >> what about the question of whether or not failure -- i don't get a sense -- i guess for anyone ago but i don't get a sense of there being tension. we hear so much about competition and tension and that's what pushes innovation forward. i don't get a great sense of tension. but outside of that, what is the place where there's a lot of competitiveness, tension, if i don't get this done and going to lose my job? >> i don't think there was that. there is competition. sometimes the later years there can eating groups and kind of internal competition. i think related to the larger question that i personally think you sent thing, which might be seen as maybe the competition met the resort have now kind of


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on